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BW Businessworld

Take A Position

DLF was faced with challenges of its own in the crisis-led economic downturn of 2020. In this time, the brand sought to be specific in the audience it reached out to, and the message it took forward.

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Real estate was under tremendous pressure in the year gone. Many companies had to drastically cut down their activities and revisit what ‘physical distancing’ and ‘working from home’ would mean for their business plans and future ventures. Under the leadership of its senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Karan Kumar, DLF was among the few companies in the sector that continually explored different ways of connecting with its customers and kept the brand active throughout the year. Kumar is also among the marketing leaders in India who strongly believe that brands have a pertinent role to play in community and nation building, and that creativity as an expression must forward the brand vision. In crisis times, this is one attribute that allows for a brand to be meaningfully present in a consumer’s life.

Love Or Hate The Brand

“I have always been a strong believer of brands taking a position. In fact, brands should take positions that polarise opinion. People can love or hate a brand, but a brand needs to stand for something,” comments Kumar.

Citing an analogy, Kumar explains that just like politicians, brands too emerge from the society, to reflect the society. “And yet, just like politicians, brands too have the onus of crafting the forward narrative of a society. You cannot only be a mirror of society that you have come from. You also need to take charge to craft the forward vision,” he says. In doing so, it is important that marketers carefully build the case for brands to speak their mind by identifying and associating with important issues. He adds, “And if a brand considered something an important issue, and took it up, then it has to stick to it. As a marketer, you cannot toe the line of cautiousness in this. Creativity is an expression of your positioning. And you do whatever it needs to be, and as creatively expressive as you have to be, to put that positioning outside.”

Simple Steps

DLF was faced with challenges of its own in the crisis-led economic downturn of 2020. In this time, the brand sought to be specific in the audience it reached out to, and the message it took forward. “We reached out to existing customers and new prospects with propositions that are honest, empathetic, simple, and straightforward and as customized to individual requirements as possible,” informs Kumar. Ku mar’s early experience in FMCG major, ITC, was at work when any marketing playbook lost relevance

in the pandemic. This was evident in the brand direction that DLF brands took in the year. On being named among BW Top 50 Marketers 2021, he says, “I take this as an opportunity to accept this recognition on behalf of the team that I lead — both internal and external teams. It has been a tough period, but it has also been a period where we did very good marketing. It has been a learning for all and has been rewarding. When one receives a recognition like this, it always all the more special.”